An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
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2004| January-March | Volume 2 | Issue 1
July 18, 2009
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Territorialisation and the Politics of Highland Landscapes in Vietnam: Negotiating Property Relations in Policy, Meaning and Practice
Jennifer C Sowerwine
January-March 2004, 2(1):97-136
This article examines the making of post-socialist forest property relations in highland Vietnam in policy, meaning and practice, and the resultant implications for patterns of resource use, local power relations, and forest biodiversity and cover. It utilises the framework of political ecology to explore how macro-level institutions and ideologies intersect with local understandings and practices to regulate resource access, use and control. Specifically, this article examines changes in farmers' de facto and de jure rights in land and land-based capital in response to institutional and market changes, and the micro-processes through which those relations are constituted and contested. It explores how forest lands are imagined by the state and made legible through various mechanisms of surveying, classifying, mapping and registering forest land parcels, a set of processes defined as territorialisation. It extends the analysis beyond the nation-state, demonstrating the role of international environmental capital in facilitating those processes. State territoriality, however, has not resulted in the uniform transformation of forest property arrangements into private control. Rather, existing social structures, land use practices and social(ist) networks may in fact alter or subvert forestry reforms in ways not envisaged by the state. This article explores the particularities and unintended consequences of forest reforms through a comparison of two highland Dao villages in northern Vietnam at the turn of the millennium.
Post-socialist Property Rights and Wrongs in Albania: An Ethnography of Agrarian Change
Clarissa de Waal
January-March 2004, 2(1):19-50
In Communist Albania privately owned land was eliminated. Decollectivisation procedures began in 1991. This ethnography focuses on post-socialist property relations with respect to ex-cooperative land, forest and partially distributed state farm land. In northern Albania ex-cooperative land was privatised according to customary law rather than state decree. This was chiefly for practical reasons, but symbolic reasons played a role, too. The procedure was widely perceived as just; agreed by customary rules and tolerated by the state. The forest remained state owned though customary usage rights in the forest were reasserted by villagers. State indifference to large-scale illegal felling has resulted in massive forest destruction. The status of ex-state farm land is anomalous, providing a fertile arena for electioneering politicians wooing squatters and painful insecurity for large numbers of highland village migrants. Post-socialist property relations in Albania have been characterised by government laissez-faire alternating with interventionism and corrupt practices. The population has had to resort to 'do-ityourself' tactics. The oft-repeated cry: 'There is no state, there is no law'-ska shtet, ska ligj-encapsulates the view from the ground.
Conflicting Concepts: Contested Land Relations in North-western Vietnam
January-March 2004, 2(1):75-95
In villages of north-western Vietnam land allocation provided a window in which different conceptions of land relations came to light. Villagers resisted the implementation of key elements of the new land legislation, though the new law purported to extend people's control. Their resistance manifested a fundamental disjuncture between the exclusive and territorial concept of land rights promoted in the new land law and people's lived land relations. They refused to give up the substance of land relations that had proven useful before collectivisation, under collective agriculture and again in the initial years of decollectivisation. People's reactions highlight how post-socialist land reforms provoke their own forms of resistance. Villagers negotiate the reforms in conflicts over resources and authority as well as over the very concept of landed property. This article examines the nature of these conflicts, explores their linkages with socialist and post-socialist land legislation, and relates them to the larger literature on post-socialist property relations.
Post-socialist Property Rights for Akha in China: What is at Stake?
Janet C Sturgeon
January-March 2004, 2(1):137-161
This article describes resource access conflicts in south-western China as a socialist regime was legislated away in favour of a 'socialist market economy'. The discussion is framed around two contradictions and one inconsistency. The first contradiction is between a state vision of exclusive, delimited property rights leading to simplified agricultural production and the Akha practice of a complex, mutable landscape. The second contradiction is between two strands within the state development mission, one emphasising poverty alleviation and the other fostering market competition. The inconsistency is between agriculture and forestry departments in the degree of emphasis on clear property rights. The local conflicts explore how the two contradictions intersect, pitting villagers at times against state property rights, and at other times with 'the state' and against a corrupt administrative village head. These result in 'fuzzy' property in Verdery's definitions. New sources of fuzziness reside in agricultural ecologies based on regeneration processes, and tensions in the 'socialist market economy'. State and local actors lean towards either the socialist or market side. What is at stake here are two related issues: the extent to which Akha can practise flexible access and land uses, and the state of the state.
Property Relations in Tibet Since Decollectivisation and the Question of 'Fuzziness'
Emily Y Yeh
January-March 2004, 2(1):163-187
Property relations in contemporary Tibet are often ambiguous. Their 'fuzziness' has origins in both the legacy of post-socialist transformation and the ongoing struggle over state incorporation. This article examines the ways in which these two sources of ambiguity contribute to two related types of fuzziness, one found in a departure from idealised images of exclusive private property, and the other arising from political constraints on the exercise of legally defined rights. The article examines these two related sources and types of ambiguity by chronicling on-the-ground property relations since decollectivisation in peri-urban Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. This includes discussions of the length of House-hold Responsibility System contracts in Tibet, the extent and variation in village land reallocations, degree of management rights, and reasons for and villagers' responses to village land expropriation. While the heterogeneity of property forms in Tibet is similar to that in other parts of China, Tibetan farmers are also more constrained than their Han counterparts in exercising the 'bundle of powers' that constitute property. The sky belongs to the Communist Party, the earth belongs to the Communist Party, the water belongs to the Communist Party! Tibetan villager near Lhasa
'Without Co-ops There Would be No Forests!': Historical Memory and the Restitution of Forests in Post-socialist Bulgaria
Barbara A Cellarius
January-March 2004, 2(1):51-73
In the wake of Bulgaria's post-socialist restitution of formerly private forests, cooperatives have widespread support among residents of the central Rhodope mountains as a way to manage the newly re-privatised resource. This support occurs despite privatisation programmes designed to foster individual private ownership and a history of socialism, which might bias people against cooperative institutions. Reasons for the favourable attitude towards cooperatives include the economic rationale of large-scale forest management along with social memory of pre-socialist forestry cooperatives in the region as valued community institutions that supported community projects, produced income for forest owners, provided jobs, and managed the forests efficiently and transparently. This case study contributes to a better understanding of natural resource management under postsocialist conditions in which individuated private property often receives the most attention.
Post-socialist Property in Asia and Europe: Variations on 'Fuzziness'
Janet C Sturgeon, Thomas Sikor
January-March 2004, 2(1):1-17
This introduction contextualises the set of articles included in this special issue and discusses their contribution to understanding the observed `fuzziness' ofproperty in post-socialist contexts. Katherine Verdery, among others, has highlighted ambiguity, or `fuzziness , as a key feature of post-socialist property relations. Property rights in practice are often quite different from the neo-liberal notion of exclusive.privatepropertypromotedinpost-socialist propertyrefoims. This introduction highlights the reasons for fuzziness identified m the individual articles and contrasts them with the overlapping and flexible property relations reported from post-colonial arenas in Africa andAsia. It concludes that post-socialist fuzzy property is similar to post-colonial ambiguous propertyrelations in many respects. The feature setting the former apartis the `lack ofroutinizedrules and crystallized practices of exclusion and inclusion' (Verdery 1999:: 55). The ruptures caused by large-scale economic, political and cultural transformations were rapid and destabilising, throwing property, identity and social relations up in the air, and opening up considerable room for manipulation. Local elite found themselves operating in somewhat of a vacuum and quickly asserted control overproductive resources or the processes allocating them.
The Property Regime of Socialism
January-March 2004, 2(1):189-198
Book Review 2
January-March 2004, 2(1):201-204
Book Review 3
Ann Grodzins Gold
January-March 2004, 2(1):204-208
Book Review 1
January-March 2004, 2(1):199-201
Book Review 4
January-March 2004, 2(1):208-210
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